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Examining the impact of emissions scenario on lower Mississippi River flood hazard projections

Dunne, K. B. J. and Dee, S. G. and Reinders, J. and Muñoz, S. E. and Nittrouer, J. A. (2022) Examining the impact of emissions scenario on lower Mississippi River flood hazard projections. Environmental Research Communications, 4 (9). Art. No. 091001. ISSN 2515-7620. doi:10.1088/2515-7620/ac8d53.

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The Mississippi River is the largest commercial waterway in North America and one of the most heavily engineered rivers in the world. Future alteration of the river’s hydrology by climate change may increase the vulnerability of flood mitigation and navigation infrastructure implemented to constrain 20th century discharge conditions. Here, we evaluate changes in Lower Mississippi River basin hydroclimate and discharge from 1920–2100 C.E. by integrating river gauge observations and climate model ensemble simulations from CESM1.2 under multiple greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. We show that the Lower Mississippi River’s flood regime is highly sensitive to emissions scenario; specifically, the return period of flood discharge exceeding existing flood mitigation infrastructure decreases from approximately 1000 years to 31 years by the year 2100 under RCP8.5 forcing, primarily driven by increasing precipitation and runoff within the basin. Without aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, flood mitigation infrastructure may require substantial retrofitting to avoid disruptions to industries and communities along the Lower Mississippi River.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Dunne, K. B. J.0000-0003-0995-7629
Dee, S. G.0000-0002-2140-785X
Nittrouer, J. A.0000-0002-4762-0157
Additional Information:This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and was accomplished under grant numbers CLD-2147781 (Dee, Muñoz), EAR-1801118 (Nittrouer), EAR-1804107 (Muñoz), and EAR-1833200 (Muñoz). Climate model data from CESM was downloaded via the Earth System Grid; the documentation for the river routing model may be found at Additional data and code related to this paper may be requested from the authors.
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Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220916-663706000
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:117001
Deposited By: Olivia Warschaw
Deposited On:29 Oct 2022 20:55
Last Modified:29 Oct 2022 20:55

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